Setting goals is still a relatively new activity for me, but I’m convinced it is a valuable activity.
Then why have I done so poorly this year in tracking and working on my goals? Well, I’ve realized that placing value on doing something, and actually doing it, are two different things.
Goal-setting has never been a high priority, and has never come naturally to me. I struggle with it all the time. Now I realize that before I am able to set goals and work on them consistently, I need to be able to master the “pre-requisites” for goals -setting.
Here are 5 pre-requisites I have identified that will help with goals, with “Notes to Self” as reminders to work on developing new habits. If you have as much trouble with this as I do, maybe this will give some helpful insight!
Pre-requisite #1: Measurable, Realistic Goals
Only one of my January goals was measurable, so now in September, I am having trouble determining if I’ve met the other goals. I’ve worked on them, but have I achieved them?
One goal was to submit several of my finished pieces for publishing. I have submitted one. But the year is almost three-quarters of the way gone, why haven’t I submitted more? Well, for one thing, I wasn’t realistic about these projects. For example, when I went to submit a non-fiction piece, I found it wasn’t technically finished at all, because I still had to put together a bibliography of all the references I’d used. It took almost as long as writing the article to put together the APA-style bibliography. Then I found out I needed to include a summary and biography with my submission. It took a lot of extra time to do the job right.
Note to self: Make measurable goals, and to avoid frustration, plan more time and steps than you think you’ll need to complete a project.
Pre-requisite #2: Commitment
I’ve set writing goals now and then, forgotten all about them, and then haphazardly bumped into them years later as I went through my writing binders and files. This year I even put a copy of my January Inscribe post (which lists my goals) in a prominent place in my To Do file. But even then I still only actually reviewed my goals once or twice in the past nine months. Why? I probably lacked commitment to achieving the goals.
Note to self: Make writing goals that are important to me. Take time to decide exactly what I want to achieve with my writing, and how to get there. These goals are worth achieving!
Pre-requisite #3: Tame the ADHD-Factor
I don’t have routines, I’m not a creature of habit; for some reason I rebel against routines and habits. (I’ve heard that’s a creative thing, so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) I don’t write in the same place every time (right now I’m sitting in my car). I am more likely to jump into writing exciting new Project B than to thoughtfully, purposely work on the planned edits for Project A. All this creates chaos, and I’m not sure if or how I can change.
Note to Self: Keep trying to be mindful, to stop and take a breath. Review your goals and realize you really do want to work on them, even the edits. Remember how it feels to accomplish a goal.
Pre-requisite #4: Regular Pondering Sessions
Sometimes I am a ponderer, but most of the time I am a do-er. I like to be active, and don’t often like to sit still (a problem for a writer!). I am also challenged by what I’ve heard termed as “fuzzy brain”, which happens to a lot of women at my age and gets frustrating. So usually I will choose an activity that I can do, instead of one I think about, which leaves reviewing, analyzing and evaluating behind in the dust of my wild typing.
Note to self: Commit to regular, short pondering sessions. These are necessary, but don’t worry, they’re not going to take over your fun creativity times.
Pre-requisite #5: Discipline
One problem I have with goals is that I find reasons to change, add or subtract them as I go. As I worked on one goal and researched markets for some pieces, I discovered Story a Day in May, which looked like a great exercise to help me practice writing entire short stories—beginning, middle and end. I participated in it because it looked like a good tool to help to break my habit of starting a story and fizzling out near the middle because I don’t know how it will end.
I’m sure I benefitted from S.a.D.i.M, but I probably should have taken a moment to mentally review my goals or at least pondered what was more important to me: increasing my skills, or marketing my work.
Note to self: You can’t do everything, so stick with the plan instead of avoiding hard work or going down internet rabbit trails. You’ll be glad you did.
I want to thank all of you who have encouraged us in setting and achieving our goals. Without you, many of us would be much less focused and determined in our writing journey. And for those like me who are goal-challenged, I’m saying a little prayer for us!
Posted by Ramona